Testers Tinker with Tinker Bell-sized Fuel Tank

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Metal coupons

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If you really must know how we compared the fuel additives, here are the particulars.

• Fuel sample size: 250 milliliters.

• Sample composition: E-10 gasoline with 0.03-percent seawater added. This is not enough to cause phase separation, since E-10 can hold about 0.5 percent water in solution.

• Gasoline additive dose: All samples were treated at manufacturer recommended levels for seasonal storage. If the product was not recommended specifically for seasonal storage, the routine usage dose was doubled.

• Metal sample preparation: all samples were polished and weighed to within 0.1 mg.

• Air exposure: Each jar was fitted with a vent made from 8 inches of 3/16-inch clear vinyl tubing. EPA studies suggest that this will give an amount of breathing comparable to a fuel tank with a 5/8-inch vent that is 3 feet long.

• Temperature and humidity exposure: All samples were kept outside from April 20, 2012 to May 20, 2012 in the Chesapeake Bay area.

• Post-exposure coupon inspection: Each metal sample was visually observed and re-weighed. The change in weight and any evidence of tarnish were noted.

Although change in weight ranged from a 2-milligram gain to 20-milligram loss, we did not report these values, as in most cases, they were not statistically meaningful, the value depending very heavily on the size of the few largest pits. This methodology is common in coolant testing, where weight loss on pitted samples is extremely variable. The visual results were more consistent.

The test used three controls: one sample contained no seawater, no aftermarket gasoline additive, and was sealed with a tight lid to eliminate evaporation, oxygen absorption, and water absorption; one sample contained no seawater, no aftermarket gas additive, and was vented in the same manner as the test bottles; one sample contained 0.03 percent seawater and was vented in the same manner as the test bottles, but contained no aftermarket gasoline additive.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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